Click and collect: An option for small businesses?

Now I’m sure we’ve all done it.

You see something you want to buy online and add it to your basket. You notice you can do click and collect.

Brilliant.

That will save on delivery costs. But then you forget to collect it, or you go but you can’t get parked.

A recent study by Barclaycard found that during the last year, shoppers have abandoned about £228m worth of products at click and collect sites across the UK.

The reason cited by many was long queues and unstaffed collection points. The study also shows that more than 70% of us Brits shop via a click and collect system but 15% of us are neglecting to collect our items and are instead opting for a refund or requesting a delivery.

Can click and collect save the high street?

But with the High Street in continual angst, click and collect could provide a well needed boost for retailers.

Research estimates that 89% of retailers that offer click and collect have experienced a climb in footfall during the last two years. And 39% of consumers say they would visit shops to collect their items more frequently if the process was improved.

So, getting a click and collect service which is easy for customers to use could result in more people in your store and maybe increased revenue as a result.

Maybe online shopping isn’t the big enemy after all!

Click and collect is convenient for customers because it enables them to pick up their package at their leisure – they don’t have to worry about sitting at home waiting in for a delivery. This is ideal if you’re out and about and want to avoid something being left over a fence or gate getting wet in the rain.

But if you’re a small independent retailer, can click and collect still be an option?

How to add click and collect to your service

There are a number of options available to you, depending on how much you want to invest.

Add a local search function

You can add a search function to your website that allows customers to see what’s in stock in the shop, reserve it, pay for it and collect.

It’s a bit like a customer calling you up to ask if you have something and you offering to put it by for them. The advantage of it being online is that they can check themselves without waiting for you to be available to take the call. They can also pay for it online too, which makes it less likely they’ll abandon the purchase.

A live inventory system

The next step up is a live inventory system and a ship-to-store structure that lets customers know what items are available at an off-site location like a warehouse or supplier, and how soon they’ll be at the collection point.

If you make the products yourself, this system could provide information on the quantity of products needed. If you make cakes, for example, you could make many of them to order.

Using third-party services

If it’s not convenient to have people coming in to your store to collect their purchases, consider using one of these options:-

  • Royal Mail has a click and collect service, called Local Collect, aimed at SMEs. The customer makes an online order and you ship the package to your nearest post office for collection. It’s free to e-tailers using Royal Mail Tracked 24 and 48 or Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9am or by 1pm.
  • CollectPlus offer SMEs a click and collect service through a network of local shops where parcels can be sent for local collection. You can find more information about how it could work for you business here. There are a number of levels of support available.
  • Doddle offers a click and collect option for anything bought online, and you don’t even need to set it up; customers enter an account number and address of a Doddle store in the delivery instructions and Doddle receive the parcel for them. The customer collects it from the selected Doddle store.

 

The disadvantages of using these services are that you don’t get the footfall in your shop and there is going to be a cost associated with using them. You’ll need to decide whether to pass this cost onto the customer or not. Many retailers are now charging a fee to collect online orders, albeit a smaller fee than the delivery options.

Omnichannel is possible

Consumers are looking for it all in many respects. They like being able to compare prices online and shop from their sofas. They like the personal service of smaller retailers and appreciate a range of delivery options.

Omnichannel retail isn’t just reserved for the big retailers.

If you want to keep your small business competitive, make sure your ecommerce offering is strong and consider adding a click and collect service if you haven’t already done so.

How can THP help?

If you are looking to grow your retail business, here at THP Chartered Accountants we can advise you on the best ways of doing this, offering a range of accountancy services like  bookkeeping, VAT returns, cloud accounting (Xero and FreeAgent) and much more helping you take your start-up or SME forward.

Come and visit us at one of our offices in ChelmsfordCheamWanstead, Saffron Walden and London City or call us at our head office on 020 8989 5147.

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